Queen Elsa, the lead character in Disney’s smash hit Frozen, was haunted by her past. As the plot unfolds, she gains the courage to let go of her previously held beliefs in order to break free and discover her true self, culminating in one of the movie’s most memorable songs, Let it Go.
As we enter 2021, I can’t think of a better mantra for us all to embrace. 2020 was a time of upheaval, disaster, and crisis. From the pandemic that claimed too many lives and rocked our economy to a level of political divisiveness our country has never known, last year was a major bummer on all accounts. Raging wildfires, social unrest, angry hurricanes, and cyber-attacks from foreign adversaries felt like a string of biblical plagues. If the year didn’t finally end, I’m pretty sure an invasion of locusts was next.
We can all agree that it was likely the most trying year in generations, but the real test is what comes next. With promising vaccines already being distributed, there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel. But our ability to fully rebound will be predicated on our capacity to let go. Think of the injustices, grievances, and disappointments you suffered in 2020 as a 40-pound backpack of rocks strapped on tight and weighing you down. Each regret, concern, complaint, guilt, shame and sorrow you add to your backpack makes it heavier and harder to carry around. We can only run forward at full speed if we’re able to release the burden of the past to sprint ahead unencumbered.
Unless you’re the CEO of Zoom, you’ll likely look back on 2020 with a good deal of angst. Many of us regret choices we made or the way we adapted to the new norm. Maybe you ate and drank too much like I did or could have been more impactful in your work. Perhaps you weren’t the most understanding and compassionate spouse or parent as the stressful months lingered on. Regret, however, is one of the worst emotions we can experience since there is absolutely nothing we can do about the past.
In the words of the Roman philosopher Seneca, “Don’t stumble over something behind you.” As difficult as letting go may be, we can’t fully seize the new year if we’re consumed by the past. Let’s move forward with confidence and purpose, wiping the slate clean and beginning with a fresh perspective. As we enter the new year with a bright new future, let’s take a cue from Frozen’s Queen Elsa and let it go in order to enjoy our own storybook ending.
Here’s to a new beginning, a fresh outlook, and a (much) happier new year!